February 5th, 2015 5:05 AM by Jackie A. Graves
Under the Fair Credit
Reporting Act, every American citizen is entitled to a free copy of each
available credit report once per year.
nationwide consumer credit-reporting companies—Equifax,
Experian, and TransUnion—are each required to provide you with a free copy of
your credit report annually, but only if you request it.
You can order all
three at once, or stagger them throughout the year, from one central source: AnnualCreditReport.com. This government-approved
website offers free credit reports from the three companies. You can order your
report online or by phone or mail.
To order by phone, call (877) 322-8228.
To order by mail, print this application form and
mail it to:
Annual Credit Report
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
Beware of impostors
is the only website you should use to order free credit reports. Don’t consider
offers that call for you to order directly from Equifax, Experian, and
Some websites claim to
offer a “free” credit report but then charge a monthly credit-monitoring fee
that they hide in the fine print. Just be safe and
need to provide
Whether you order your
report online or by phone or mail, you will have to provide the same
personal information, including the following:
Social Security number
Date of birth
Previous addresses, if you have moved within
the past two years
Other conditions for a
free credit report
If you have been
denied a loan, credit card, or insurance policy, you are entitled to a free
credit report. Likewise, if you are applying for unemployment or receive public
assistance, you are entitled to a free credit report.
How a credit report is
Your credit report
contains crucial information that reflects your ability to repay loans.
Potential lenders will examine your reports before deciding whether you are eligible for a
Before you apply for a
loan for a major purchase, such as a home or a car, check your credit reports
to make sure the information they list is accurate and complete. Dispute any
errors you find.
Also, due to the
prevalence of identity theft, checking the accuracy of your credit reports is
essential. Otherwise, you run the risk of your credit score being unfairly
Score not included
Your credit report
lists your payment history. It includes all your accounts and balances and
reflects whether you have paid them on time. It does not, however, include your
credit score, which you can order from MyFico.com. You can also use websites such as CreditKarma.com that
offer free credit reports. Some credit cards will also show you your credit
score for free with your monthly statements.
By: Craig Donofrio | Updated
from an earlier version by Gilan Gertz
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